Yesterday I took the two smaller children on a succession of trains to go to Freeport Braintree, a shopping village in Essex. If I could have driven, we’d have been there in an hour. As it was, Tim took us half way, and we then caught a couple of trains.
There were difficulties to this. When the first train arrived late, I hopped on with Tigerboy, the buggy and the bag, and turned round to offer Smallest a hand. To see her stood at the other side of the yellow line, refusing to come any nearer, no matter how I cajoled, pleaded or ordered. Seeing (and probably hearing) my dilemma, a woman ran across the platform and manhandled her on to the train for me. And that set the pattern for every on and off train we had to do, and there were a lot through the day. She’s been travelling on trains since she was 6 months old – suddenly, she’s scared of them. Just what I needed.
The second difficulty was that the train was running 9 minutes late, and there’s only a 6 minute connection window at Witham. I sent an irritated tweet about this – and the Greater Anglia customer service picked it up, and sent a message to hold the train. That hugely improved the day I can tell you, and special mention should also be offered to the ticket guy at Manningtree who figured out the cheapest way to do the journeys I needed to do. I do not understand why the fares jump the way they do
Anyway, eventually we made it to Freeport. It’s rather nicely laid out as a little village with shops within easy reach of each other. There are a couple of coffee shops and a BK as well as some food stands too. We were meeting up with a few other bloggers for a #Kidstyle shopping challenge – £150 to buy new outfits for the children for a family day out. We had about 1 1/2 hours to do this – the challenge was on!
First stop for us Trespass, where I’d spotted some great beach wear earlier. I picked up a swimsuit and coordinating T shirt and shorts for Smallest, for £14.97. (This confused me slightly – the reduced ticket prices added up to around £20, but something was obviously more reduced than it said.) We popped into Bench on our way to Gap as I hadn’t realised they did childrens’ wear – they do, but start at age 3, so nothing for Tigerboy. I did make note of a great hoody for Smallest though.
Gap came through for Tigerboy with some great long shorts and a hooded cardigan – a hooded jumper for Smallest brought the total in there to £17.97 (I think).
By this time Smallest was getting very frustrated. She’d been promised a bag and sunglasses – we headed for Claires, which had a fantastic 10 for £5 offer on everything round the walls, and bags for £4. It took longer than I would have liked to pick out the bag, two pairs of sunglasses, two wands, a tiara (with hindsight should have bought him one as well!) and a few other bits to make it up to the 10. We now didn’t have very long to find a T shirt and shoes.
Next have a great range in their outlet shop there – I picked up a two piece UV suit for Tigerboy (£13) as well as a red Geek T shirt for £3. Plenty of money left for shoes in the Clarks outlet, although it was a bit confusing, as although both children were having problems with their doodles, it turned out to be style related rather than growing feet. Pair of trainers for each of them, her’s with flashing lights, were only £8 each, so she got a purse to go with her bag too (£6.49).
So. £14.97, £17.97, £9, £16, £22.49 adds up to £81.43. I don’t think I’ve missed anything out, but that doesn’t seem to add up to what it did on the ticket prices. Confused now (but I’m not going off to hunt through the piles of tags I still have).
And of course, pictures.
Now, it’s fairly obvious from those pics that I’m not up for a job as a photographer (sigh, sorry!) but what do you reckon, could the children make it in modelling? He’s got the attitude don’t you think?
Journey home with quick stops into Cadbury’s outlet (£8) of chocolate and Sports Direct (3 pairs of goggles – £15) was a lot more straightforward than the way there. The stops were more even, with half an hour at Witham (plenty of time to make it to the other platform to the toilet and back again) and half an hour in Ipswich (time for a hot chocolate for them and a mocha for me, in the lovely little cafe on the station).
All in all, a very pleasant day out, and I’d definitely make the trip to Freeport again, I think I’d try to make sure I managed it during the week, when it was very quiet. I suspect it’s not like that during school holidays! All the staff we spoke to in a wide variety of shops were very friendly and helpful and for someone who isn’t that fond of shopping, I had a fabulous day out.
Thanks Freeport Braintree! I’ve linked up with What I wore Wednesday at Transatlantic Blonde.